Nuisance Aquatic Vegetation
Not all aquatic vegetation is "nuisance" vegetation. Most lakes and rivers contain some plant life. Tiny, free-floating algae known as phytoplankton provide food for insects and other invertebrates, which are eaten in turn by fish. Large plants such as waterlilies provide cover and food for fish and other wildlife. Aquatic ecosystems with healthy plant communities are usually more productive than those without plants.
Sometimes, however, aquatic plants get out of control. Overabundant vegetation can limit recreational access, restrict flow rates in canals and rivers, interfere with industrial water uses, and harm fish and wildlife. Problems are most likely to arise when exotic plant species are involved. In recent decades, species such as hydrilla, waterhyacinth, and giant salvinia have invaded many Texas waterways. These introduced plants often grow rapidly, displacing more beneficial native species, and they can travel from one watershed to another by way of boat propellers, bilges, and livewells.
Elimination of all aquatic vegetation is seldom practical, or even desirable. As the agency responsible for managing fish and wildlife resources in this state, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department focuses on stands of plants that directly affect the health and recreational use of those resources and works with other organizations to develop treatment measures that minimize harm to the environment. The primary responsibility for vegetation control in waters not directly controlled by TPWD rests with landowners and agencies that control water use.
Under the State Aquatic Vegetation Management Plan, organizations and individuals wishing to conduct vegetation management activities in public water must first submit a Treatment Proposal for review by TPWD and local controlling entities. The proposal form and other useful information are provided in the Guidelines for Control in Public Waters, linked below.
- Guidelines for Control in Public Waters
- Current Treatment Proposals
- Public Waters Stocked with Triploid Grass Carp
When problem vegetation appears in a private lake or pond, control is up to the landowner. Resources to assist in determining the best treatment method are listed below. Treatment proposals are not required; however, certain control methods are governed by state law. A TPWD permit is required to stock triploid grass carp in public or private water. Use of herbicides containing 2,4-D requires a pesticide applicator’s license; check with the Texas Department of Agriculture for the latest regulations.
- TPWD Brochure on Managing Nuisance Aquatic Vegetation
- Using Grass Carp for Vegetation Control
- Pond Manager Diagnostics Tool (Texas Cooperative Extension Service)
Earl Chilton II, PhD,
Aquatic Habitat Enhancement Program Director
4200 Smith School Road, Austin, Texas 78744